Divorce is never easy; it marks the end of a marital relationship and the beginning of an emotional and vulnerable period where a family undergoes a difficult transition. Divorce is tough on everyone impacted, especially when there are children involved.
Divorce can also be a costly, long, and arduous process involving attorneys and the court system. This process can make intimate details of a marital relationship public, and it strips decision-making ability away from the spouses seeking the divorce. It often further degrades their relationship by stoking animosity and resentment. Fortunately, mediation is an alternative option that enlists the services of an independent and impartial third-party mediator to facilitate the negotiation and settlement terms of the divorce. The mediator meets with both spouses together to work out all the divorce details, striving for amicability and resolution that serves all parties equitably. Typical issues negotiated during mediation include the division of property and other marital assets, child support, co-parenting, custody, and spousal support.
Here are six benefits of divorce mediation and why it is recommended to anyone deciding to divorce:
- The mediation process is less stressful – Mediation is far less taxing than a litigated divorce, which usually includes multiple court appearances and attorney meetings. The main goal of mediation is to encourage friendly cooperation that benefits everyone. While the mediator facilitates the negotiation and agreement process, they also try to ease tension and promote amicability. Less stress on spouses navigating the divorce means less distress for the entire family.
- Cost-effective – Mediation costs between 40% to 60% less than a litigated divorce. If a divorce petition is filed before any resolution is met on issues like custody, child support, distribution of marital property, and spousal support, it is more than likely that an attorney’s services will be needed to reach the desired outcomes for each issue. This will take time and be much more costly than using a professionally trained mediator. In most mediations, spouses agree to split the cost of the mediator’s fee.
- Mediation takes less time and offers flexibility – A divorce moving through the court system often feels like a process that takes an eternity. It becomes one case out of a thousand to cross the desk of a family court judge. The average time frame for a litigated divorce can take up to two years. The average time frame for a divorce mediation process is under six months. Mediation allows involved parties to control the speed at which the process moves forward. It gives spouses control over their own schedules; there is no waiting for a court hearing or waiting around hours to see a judge on a scheduled day in court. In addition, mediators often offer evening sessions to accommodate clients who work during the day.
- Private matters remain private – When a divorce plays out in a courtroom, it is in a public forum. The case becomes part of the public record. Anyone can attend and hear a family’s private matters being aired in this public space. By choosing mediation, spouses will probably never set foot in court, and their family’s sensitive issues remain private as state laws protect mediation confidentiality. All communication taking place during mediation, whether it be verbal or written, is confidential.
- Focused on the children – Mediation puts children first as it allows for customizable solutions that reflect the family’s needs. Every decision is made considering how the children will be impacted. Mediation maximizes time spent with each parent while reducing time in childcare and the costs associated with it. It sets the foundation for positive co-parenting and a compliant divorce.
- Remain in control of decision-making – Mediation allows those involved to engage in decision-making actively. Both spouses have more control over the outcome because they are not surrendering this control to a judge, who has a very limited amount of time to consider the details of each case. Mediation empowers both parties involved to resolve matters in their mutual best interests and of their children.
In mediation, there is no win or lose and no taking sides. Mediation focuses on respectful discourse and mutual problem-solving. It focuses on the future and what that looks like for a divorcing couple and their family. The goal of mediation is to plan for a peaceful transition where everyone can move on as amicably as possible.